New Britneyology

What to believe?

Posted by: Karenannanina on: April 16, 2016

We live in interesting times! The web is replete with “stories” about Britney, and every time one of them is launched, it pops up almost everywhere. Sometimes it’s still popping up on less switched-on gossip sites a couple of weeks later, such is the continuing fascination with our heroine. Sometimes I ask myself why that is. With most of our current exposure to Britney being of the “looking ordinary in the street” variety, we may forget just how spellbinding and beautiful an artist she can be, but we only have to look at a couple of her videos to be spellbound once again.

So, given that Britney still has the power to intrigue people who remember her glory, and the allure to attract plenty of imaginative media confabulation, how should we approach the flotilla of recent rumor?

Britney, apparently, has been signed up to do a six-week panto season at the London Palladium next Christmas, for a fee of £500,000. Hmmm. Sounds like something left over from 1st April, doesn’t it? Yet a lot of websites are still spreading it around like it’s Gospel truth. Can you even imagine her negotiations with her promoters in Vegas to be allowed out of her megabuck “Piece of me” contract so she can go earn £100,000 a week away from her family in London over Christmas? Everything about this story – such as the side-story that the panto part had previously been turned down by Kylie Minogue and Kim Kardashian – seemed to be designed as a test of our credulity, yet some people actually bought it!

Next, we are informed that Britney wishes to adopt a baby girl. A baby Chinese girl. Has she been in China looking at girls? Or is the story “inspired” by recent news reports about the neglect suffered by many female children in China? It adds a veneer of near-credibility. But if Britney wanted more children, she’s still of child-bearing age, is healthy, has already given birth to kids of her own, and seems to view the experience of motherhood as almost sacramental. If such a woman wanted to extend her family, she would want to do it herself. Where did the story come from? Not from Britney, that’s for sure. Credit for creativity goes to “a source”.

Today we hear that Brit will be performing at the Billboard Music Awards 2016. Now, this is not entirely impossible – after all, she has done it before. But when you look more closely at the report, in all its many varieties and restatements, it amounts to nothing more than pure speculation. What they’re saying is: she COULD be there – after all, it would make sense for the organisers to secure her services and get an automatic ratings boost. And it would tie in with the supposed release-date of her new material. But has anyone connected with Britney or with Billboard said anything? Nope.

And now we come to the most important rumors. Britney is going to release her 9th studio album next month, in May. Oh wait, it’s actually happening in June. Maybe. But hey, the single has already been chosen, the video is about to be filmed. We even have some description of the album, from the lips of Larry Rudolph. But wait again, isn’t that the same description he gave a couple of months ago, using exactly the same words? This casts doubt upon the status of the current reportage as “news”, even though the apparent source is the often-reliable Robin Leach. I think it’s a combination of gossip and an old story, rehashed and inflated for a second bite at the cherry. We have heard nothing from official sources, so… be hopeful, be optimistic, but don’t get too excited just yet.

Signs, but of what?

Posted by: Karenannanina on: March 8, 2016





It’s been interesting not only to see Britney putting herself about in the media lately, but to see how she’s been doing it. Modern pop princesses know that you have to be sexy and show some skin. Saint Beyonce does it, natch, and minor deities like Rita Ora have built their careers on it. Jessie J, despite her stern and demanding attitude to pop performance, isn’t shy about displaying her physical attributes. Even the more unlikely cases such as Ellie Goulding (a nonentity with a basic-bitch voice in earlier years) have realized that careers cannot be fashioned these days without sex. And I’m not being snarky here. I would actually recommend that Britain’s brand-new X Factor winner Louisa Johnson exercises due diligence in publicizing those long legs and surprisingly curvy little butt.

We haven’t seen so much skin from Britney for ages! The narrative we’d grown used to was that, as a responsible mom, she had to be more demure and keep skin under wraps. But right now she’s in her best shape since she had her babies! It’s a great time to sex up her image. After years of momming it up pretty remorselessly, we are led to one conclusion – she’s coming back! If I may look on the optimistic side, this is what’s going on: she doesn’t know exactly when her new album will be ready to drop and she wants to be ready when it does!

Of course, it does no harm for someone who is launching a revised and rejigged iteration of a Vegas show to offer something a little spicier. There will be those who have the nerve to suggest that she possibly doesn’t do much live singing in the show, and even that her dancing might not be as cutting-edge as it used to be (compared to that of J.Lo anyway) but WHAT a showgirl she is! With that spectacular body on view, we forget to be cynical and simply sit and watch the poetry in motion with our eyes out on stalks. I know I would pay plenty to see it!

Will she do it this time?!

Posted by: Karenannanina on: February 19, 2016

Britney fans have become expert at the sport of straw-clutching. The slightest rumor of activity by Ms Spears and we all go crazy! So what are we to make of the hints she and Larry Rudolph gave in recent interviews to the effect that her 9th studio album is 80% complete? It seems like reality, not just a vague aspiration. So what’s it gonna be like? It’s different, Larry says, it’s a “turn”. Her last few albums had been straightforward pop but this has a really interesting vibe, contains a lot of cool stuff, and she sounds amazing on it, better than she has “since I don’t know when”. AND she’s done a lot of writing on it, along with some other interesting writers.

Larry’s obviously pushing our buttons here. What do we always demand on the fansites and forums? More substantial, deeper, less poppy material? Check. Better vocals? Check. More writing? Check! These promises are standard fare, every time. According to Larry, Britney says this her favorite album that she’s ever, EVER done but she always says that! At least she hasn’t said it’s her most personal album this time, so the critics don’t have THAT stick to beat her with.

Larry does say something interesting, however. He says that sound-wise the album is very “Britney meets The Weeknd”? So what does that mean? Can we even imagine how it might turn out? The general consensus (summarized by Wikipedia) on The Weeknd portrays a somewhat controversial alternative form of r&b, characterized by “forlorn echoes, falsetto vocals and a pleading, anxious tone”. Arabic influences have been observed, and unconventional samples, drawn from rock rather than r&b sources, that convey a sense of sexual menace. His emotional, plaintive lyrics often express feelings of hurt and deal with subject matter such as sex, drugs, and partying. Hermione Hoby of The Guardian characterizes The Weeknd’s songs as “narcotised-slow jams” and delineates their message as “partying is an existential experience, sex is fraught with alienation, and everything registers as unreal and unsettling”. One might also mention wall-to-wall misogyny and foul language.

Wow! Well, we can’t really expect Britney to make music like THAT, can we? But can we abstract some generalizable characteristics from it: Deep, slow, moody, emotional, intense, intricate, bass-heavy jams with meaningful lyrical content? Songs like “Wicked Games”,”Drunk In Love”, “High For This”, “The Hills” or “Earned it” but with less misogyny? As someone who adores Britney ballads, that would be all my dreams come true. But with less controversial lyrics and a slightly lighter touch would it be more like “Britney meets Selena Gomez”? Will they even give us ballads at all? The last few albums have offered no cause for optimism.

I’m the least cynical person on Earth, but my feeling is that the “meets The Weeknd” influence is going to be more like “Britney, Max Martin, Dr Luke and Will I Am were on their way to the club when they saw The Weeknd coming the other way and said Hi.” In other words, we might at best be able to expect something like “I Can’t Feel My Face” or… well… that’s about it, really. It seems to me that, every time Britney feels the urge to step outside of herself and make her mark with something significant, something or somebody pulls her back. The only exception, obviously, is “Blackout” – which is also the only album on which she herself was Executive Producer.

What do you think?

My Album of the Year, 2015! Um……

Posted by: Karenannanina on: January 1, 2016

Sneaky sneaky! My Album of 2015 was made in 2011 and I bought it in a store where everything costs £1. It may not be new and it may not be expensive but I still stand over it as the best album I heard for the first time in 2015. Most of you are based in the US or Europe so you won’t know who I’m talking about, so here’s some background.

The X Factor may have failed in the US but it has been a pretty big event on UK television for many years. The winners rarely come to much, but many of those who have failed to win have had a lot of success – which shows that the personal popularity and excitement you can generate on a TV show have little relevance to subsequent sales. This year’s winner, and predicted as such from Week One, was a girl so good she makes Christina Aguilera sound like a pub singer. She has stated ambitions to be a world-beater, but talent alone won’t guarantee her success. She will need just as much A & R genius and marketing creativity as someone who can barely croak out a tune.

On the other hand, you have wonderful performers who don’t expect to win and don’t particularly care if they don’t, so long as the show benefits their careers in some way. One such was mum-of-two Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Rebecca Ferguson, runner-up in 2010 to Matt Cardle. The show gave her some media exposure and, best of all, a recording contract. But Rebecca didn’t rush-release an album of covers, as many talent-show graduates do. It took her a full year to release her debut album, Heaven. She wanted quality, even at the risk of passing the peak of public interest in her.

And here we have one of the finest, most soulfully expressive voices around today singing ten thoughtful, original, smart and hooky love songs, all co-written by herself. What does she sound like? Well, how about a cross between Aretha Franklin, Macy Gray, Amy Winehouse, Rumer and the young and unspoiled Billie Holiday? Always highly musical and tuneful, yet with great precision and a clean cutting edge. Tough but sweet, and no shouting or over-singing like some practitioners in the soul/blues/jazz genre. (Joss Stone, are you listening?!)

In the wake of The X Factor, I was waiting patiently for Heaven to come out, but somewhere in the long gestation period I lost track of it. However, I now find that it was “critically acclaimed”, charted at 3 in the UK, and has since been certified gold. This is a terrific album, with no fillers or lazy and generic material. And, even beyond that consistent level of excellence, there are stand-outs, like “Nothing’s real but love”, “Mr Bright Eyes” (co-written and produced by Xenomania’s Brian Higgins), and, best of all, “Shoulder to Shoulder” – probably the best song I’ve heard all year.

But saying that Rebecca has a great voice and these are excellent songs isn’t enough. There’s a certain magic about this album. What I have to try to convey is that the synergy between these songs and the way she expresses them creates moments of extraordinary timelessness, where the deepest, oldest wellsprings of pop/soul/r&b are tapped and Sehnsucht gnaws away at the unreachable corners of your brain. “Heaven” indeed.

If you haven’t heard of Rebecca Ferguson or you gave up waiting for her first album, do yourself a favour and invest a small sum of money. Maybe as little as £1. If you fall in love with Heaven, as I did, you’ll find that it wasn’t a one-off. Again the exception among talent-show stars, Rebecca has recorded consistently and has now released 3 albums, following up with the equally superb Freedom in 2013 and Lady Sings The Blues – an actual and stunning tribute to Billie Holiday – in 2015.

  • Karenannanina: I agree with you about the residency. It's the road to irrelevance for an artist. But a new album would be a golden blessing for her fans. Her albums
  • George: Spot on thoughts on the issue. Honestly, I don't... really care whether she does the residency or not? As long as there is new music, I'm fine. P.S: G
  • Sarah G: You should write an In-Depth of Glory or even Mood Ring (that's a groovy tune)